Liverpool vs FC Porto - Milner: Creating chances has always been a strength of mine

Posted Tuesday, March 06, 2018 by PA

Liverpool vs FC Porto - Milner: Creating chances has always been a strength of mine

Liverpool midfielder James Milner thinks – at the age of 32 – he is finally changing perceptions of him as he tops the table of Champions League assists this season.

The Reds vice-captain has created seven of the 28 goals Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored in Europe despite just 341 minutes of pitch time.

That is three better than team-mate Roberto Firmino, Paris St Germain forward Neymar, Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard of Chelsea – all of whom have played at least 100 minutes more.

It has become something of a joke within the Liverpool squad but for Milner it is just an extension of what he feels he has done throughout his career, only no-one has paid any attention until now.

“I’ve been mentioning it? I think it’s more the other way around to be honest,” he said ahead of the visit of Porto, who are seeking to become the first team in the competition’s history to overturn a 5-0 first-leg deficit.

“There has been a bit of banter about it. It’s nice to have, it helps me shut down any arguments if there is any banter going on in the dressing room.

“I just want to contribute to the team. Throughout my career I’ve managed to create goals for the team I have played at.

“That’s a strength of mine even though I am seen as a bit of a workhorse who runs around a bit.

“Throughout the years if you look at the stats I have created a few goals. Hopefully I can keep doing that.”

Klopp will resist the urge to rest key players and will probably only make up to three changes, fitness and illness permitting.

“We respect Porto too much and respect the competition too much that we would think about real rotation,” he said.

“We don’t rotate to avoid something, we only use the players which are in the best shape and if there will be a different line-up to Saturday it is only because we want to win the game and no other reason.

“That is what I meant when I said we would not rest players. We will maybe make one, two, three changes but only to win the game.”

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao concedes his side are playing for pride at Anfield.

Conceicao accepts the Portuguese Primeira Liga, which they lead Benfica by five points, is their priority and Tuesday night is just about salvaging some of their reputation.

“Everyone knows that our main goal is the championship,” he told a press conference.

“We have to defend the history of a major club, the best club in Portugal. The biggest motivation to play tomorrow is to represent FC Porto.

“At Porto there’s always pressure. Pressure is synonymous with ambition and a will to win.

“Even though we lost the first match, I don’t believe we’re playing without pressure tomorrow. We’re looking to defend the history of the club.

“The five-goal margin is not a true reflection of the difference in quality between the two teams. We want to get a much better result tomorrow.”

Leading scorer Vincent Aboubakar, who had missed six matches, came off the bench for the final 20 minutes of a 2-1 win over third-placed Sporting on Friday to offer the visitors some positivity.

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